Letter to Kansas Monks

Zohmah Charlot

July 2, 1979

Editor Newsletter, Kansas Monks:1

Thank you for the sympathetic article on my husband's death in the April 1979 issue of your magazine.

As you do not mention that he was a Benedictine oblate since the summer of 1959, when he painted the frescoes in St. Benedict's Abbey Church, I thought you would want to know he was a faithful one.

His first Manual for Oblates wore out from handling.  He did have it repaired and kept it on his studio table.  In it he had put cards of Fra Angelico; an old photograph from his youth in France of Bernadette Sœur Marie-Bernard; El Señor de Villaseca, Guanajuato; Nuestra Señora del Socorro, Patrona de Valencia; Divina Pastora, Barquisimeto; and a Madonna and Child from Brangues.  He bought a new Manual to use for his daily prayers.  In this book the only addition are brackets around the text: 

To the King of ages, immortal, invincible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever.  Amen.

His Benedictine robes were a gift from Right Reverend Cuthbert McDonald.2 These we packed away in a trunk along with such other things as his World War uniform. He told me that he wanted to be buried in his robes, and so he was—the black robes, then wrapped in a 100-year-old white tapa, then a fine Fiji mat, all covered with maile and ʻilima leis.

He died on the last day of winter and was buried twenty-three hours later on the first day of Spring.  It is my understanding that March 21st is also the Feast of St. Benedict.

I didn't believe he was going to die and had no plans other than the robe, but it was as if a strong force carried us along. 

The cancer had been eating him alive, but he refused any pain killers and the last day got out of bed as usual and spent a quiet, loving day with the family.  


1 Unpublished letter to the newsletter of the monks of St. Benedict’s Abbey, Atchison, Kansas.  Lightly edited by John Charlot.

2 Abbot of St. Benedict’s Abbey, where Charlot painted his 1959 fresco Trinity and Episodes of Benedictine Life and two other smaller murals.